#PhotoArk to Illuminate St. Peter’s Basilica


Joel Sartore’s #PhotoArk images were broadcast onto St. Peter’s Basilica, December 8 at 1p.m. EST/6p.m. UTC. Follow @NatGeo on Periscope to see what he saw.

With habitat loss, poaching, and climate change looming like a new flood to threaten the world’s animals with extinction, National Geographic photographer, Joel Sartore, gave himself a mission: photograph every captive animal species on Earth before it goes extinct, preserving them all in a Photo Ark.

Using a simple black or white background and carefully balanced lighting, he seeks to give each animal a real studio portrait, and to encourage you to see each species’ individuality, regardless of size or shape or popularity.

Over the past several years, Joel has traveled the world, recording more than 5,000 species so far. He has about 7,000 more to go. This is a simple project, but not a free one. This week, you can help Joel and the National Geographic Society to complete this work in the easiest way ever. Just comment on Facebook or Twitter with “#donate $10” (or whatever contribution you can make) then follow the one-time link to complete your donation.

This week, timed to coincide with the #COP21 climate conference in Paris, Joel’s work is being highlighted along with that of fellow National Geographic photographers, David Doubilet and Paul Nicklen, and other greats in the field in a “visual symphony” being broadcast onto the the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

(Photograph by David Doubilet. Artistic rendering by Obscura Digital)
(Photograph by David Doubilet. Artistic rendering by Obscura Digital)

The three-hour public art experience was gifted by a coalition of humanitarian organizations to Pope Francis in recognition of his call for coordinated and self-sacrificing commitment to protecting the integrity of the natural world and all the human lives which are a part of it as well.

Follow @NatGeo on Twitter and Periscope to share the excitement from St. Peter’s Square, or watch the replay. You can also view the whole event at

And comment on Facebook or Twitter with “#donate $10” to support the Photo Ark.

[Updated 12/8/2015]